Monthly Archives: April 2016
So let’s lift the veil on the mysterious World of cycling jersey production & pricing and how the different fits work best in certain situations. Ultimately this guide should help you work out what’s the best cycling jersey for you (even if it’s not one that we stock)…
#1 Graphics – The Cycling Jersey’s Persona
Remember how your mum always told you not to take things on face value? Or how you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover? Well that’s only partially true here. How pleasing the cycling jersey is on your eye obviously has no impact on how comfortable it is or how well it performs on the bike.
But these items cost money, for you to get real value out of your purchase – you need to wear it lots. You aren’t going to wear a cycling jersey that you hate the look of no matter how well it performs! Simple as that. If you love how a jersey looks then you’re onto a good start. By the way, as in life – people have vastly different tastes here. Be bold and express yourself, this is your cycling persona, your alter ego. Forget everyone else, go with what you like.
#2 Fabrics – The Cycling Jersey’s Genetics
What a cycling jersey is made of has a massive impact on how much it costs, how it sits on your body and how it performs on the bike. The fabric can even have an impact on your confidence off the bike if you’re the type who likes to ride to the pub but doesn’t like looking like an aero weekend warrior sipping on a beetroot cocktail.
The latest style trend seems to be for understated merino wool cycling jerseys. Merino wool jerseys not only look classy but feel luxurious on your body and merino wool has a plethora of thermal regulating properties that make it an excellent choice for a variety of weather conditions. Oh and modern wool is not scratchy like old school wool jerseys from long ago.
Merino wool is not perfect though. It is expensive to manufacture, relatively heavy and can be tricky to wash and care for. And despite its natural performance capabilities – it pales in comparison to modern man made polyester / Lycra blend fabrics.
Polyester used to be sweaty and uncomfortable. But the modern blends are often anti-bacterial, ultra fast at wicking away sweat and very comfortable indeed. They will keep you dry whether it’s hot or cold. It’s also an incredibly light fabric, and can be sublimated – a form of printing that lends itself perfectly to the graphical designs you see on cycling jerseys.
But there’s polyester and there’s polyester. It’s not all the same… more advanced fabrics hold their shape beautifully meaning that you require less panels and the jersey sits perfectly on your body all day long. Check out our Bodyline jerseys for a look at what you can achieve with modern fabrics.
Of course, there are creative fabric blends out there such as “sport wool” as often used by the likes of Rapha and so on. These blends are expensive (like mortgage your house expensive) but offer an interesting mix of wool and Polyester.
#3 Fit – The Cycling Jersey’s Purpose
What sort of rider are you? This goes deeper than road cyclist / off roader / commuter. Ultimately any type of jersey can be used for any sort of riding, but the fit you choose may have implications on your ride style and confidence and of course performance.
If you’re a road cyclist or competitive mountain biker looking for a higher average speed and all day comfort then you want a close fitting aero jersey. Aero doesn’t need to be a skinsuit by the way and close fitting doesn’t mean “spray on” – it simply means that there is no excess material flapping around in the breeze. A comfortable, good fitting aero jersey can make a genuine difference to your performance and cycling happiness. Modern aero jersey make use of longer, close fitting sleeves. These sleeves can be expensive to manufacture well, but they are a joy to wear. It’s why our jerseys rated so highly on road.cc, sportive.com and The Cycling Bug.
If you’re someone who like doing cycling sportives, club rides, casual meanders and so forth then a club fit jersey will again give you all day comfort whilst not being at the peak of performance. OurRetro Image Apparel cycling jerseys are perfect for this sort of riding and bring a bit of fun to your trip too.
Typically, a pure merino wool jersey will offer you the most relaxed fit – simply because there is a lot of natural give in the fabric. Perfect for comfort and style on and off the bike.
#4 Features – The Cycling Jersey’s Bragging Rights!
Certain features are very common – 3 rear pockets for example. As a newbie these pockets may not seem that important but the more you cycle the more you come to rely on these little beauties. They can carry everything from food and water to spare and repairs, maps, phones, keys, money for coffee & cake… the list goes on.
If you’re someone who likes to abuse the pockets then you need a jersey with strong pockets that don’t sag. Again – this kind of strengthening adds cost to the product. Wool jerseys tend to sag somewhat under load so that is also something to bear in mind.
Other features to consider are:
- zip – full length, 1/2 length, 1/4 length? The longer it is the more options you have in keeping yourself cool. Ironically, many brands charge more for full length zipped jerseys even though the manufacturing costs are negligible. Hey ho.
- zip garages, heat transfer labels and so on – these type of features add a level of comfort and ultimately sophistication to the jersey.
- Extra pockets. Our Bodyline jerseys come with an extra 4th pocket that is zipped. Ours is also water resistant for good measure. These types of features make the jersey more useful but of course add to the manufacturing costs significantly as they require extra seams, fabrics and zips etc.
Anything beyond that is quite honestly paying for marketing and advertising rather than simply making a profit on manufacturing.
These are the brackets should look to slot into. Typically, if a brand wants to step up or down a bracket then it means a change in fabrics & features and so on. We took a different approach to reducing the customer cost – we adapted our business model. We only sell direct to the customer. Which means our £90-£120 bracket jersey can be sold for £60. I like this, a lot… no compromise on quality, but still rock solid, honest pricing.
Jerseys are extremely important in the arsenal of a cyclist. Sometimes forgotten, this unsung hero can mean the difference between a comfortable ride versus an uncomfortable, chilly and pretty miserable time out on the road.
- Fabric & Material
Choosing a jersey made with high quality materials is a must for any cyclist.
Most jerseys are made from a blend of polyester and elastane. These materials are designed to regulate temperature by wicking the moisture away from your body to the outer layers of the material, therefore making it easier for the water to evaporate. This is crucial for your jersey selection as it ensures you stay dry and comfortable on your ride.
Sewing is a vital part of your garment in terms of comfort and durability. Sewing elastic materials is almost an art form and using the right yarn, stitch and tensioning is essential for a high quality garment.
Other considerations when selecting your jersey are UV protection and anti-microbial properties. Long days out on the road mean you are exposed to a lot of those harmful rays. It’s important to choose a fabric with a high UV rating as you’re not likely to apply sunscreen under your jersey.
- Fit and Cut
Whether you’re competing or just out for a leisurely ride, fit is key.
If you’re into racing then tight fitting jerseys that are designed to hug the body are the way to go. Not only do they help to reduce drag and increase aerodynamics, they ensure the fabric is close to the skin to aid the wicking process.
A well cut garment will also account for your position on the bike; if you are a racer you are more likely to have an aggressive aerodynamic position and the garment needs to be styled and cut to accommodate these factors. For leisurely or commuting riders, a more relaxed fit is preferable to accommodate the more upright position you will most likely ride in. Regardless of the cut, a great jerseys should still be made from high quality fabrics with a comfortable fit when you’re on or off the bike.
- Pockets, Zips & Extras
Jerseys can come with an array of different optional extras. Standard in any quality jersey should be – 3 rear pockets and a full-length zip. Having enough room for your café money, spare tubes and nutrition is key! Zips are the unsung hero of the jersey. Hidden away is best but the garment is useless if the zip doesn’t work so it is important to use a high quality zip that is flexible, functional and durable.
You can shed litres of sweat on long rides in the sun so a technical jersey made with a high wicking fabric will keep you dry and cool. Worth noting is that many jerseys can be worn nearly year round, during early spring and late into the autumn. As part of a layering system, a jersey can be paired with a gilet and arm warmers and used on cooler days around the calendar.
A summer jersey is a simple garment in essence, but look through any catalogue or browse your local shop and you’ll quickly realise there are hundreds of different jerseys. They’re all trying to do the same thing though, but how they do it can be very different, so it’s worth being clear what you’re looking for before you starting buying.
You can pay anything from £5 to £130 for a jersey, but an expensive one isn’t necessarily 20 times better. Generally, you’re paying extra for better and more advanced fabrics that are better at wicking sweat and keeping you cool and dry than very basic fabrics. You can also expect improved fit and styling and extra features.
Materials and fabrics
Yes, you could wear a t-shirt on your bike. But cotton, as you’ll find out if you ever ride in it on a hot day, isn’t that great at dealing with sweat; it simply holds onto it, and before long will be soaked through. Add a light breeze and you can quickly chill. Not good.
So the aim of a technical jersey is to wick sweat from your skin to the outer side of the fabric, where it can evaporate. That leaves you dry, so you don’t get clammy with sweat and won’t chill if the temperature drops or the wind picks up.
Man-made synthetic fabrics are the mainstay of summer jerseys, but natural materials – basically types of wool – are also good choices. Naturally sourced materials such as Merino wool have developed a lot in recent years with many improvements and developments leading to Merino wool being a good choice, even on hot days. One particular benefit of woollen jerseys is that the fat molecules in sweat find it harder to cling to the organic fibres than they do with man-made polyester, so wool jerseys take a lot longer to pong.
Another consideration for cycling in hot weather is to look for a jersey with a fabric that provides some sun protection. Some jerseys use very lightweight and loose weave fabric that can let a lot of harmful UV rays through, so manufacturers have started addressing this by making clothing with SPF and UPF ratings. When you’re cycling you’re exposing your back to the sun, the area under your jersey that you most likely don’t apply suntan lotion to.
You can have the best and most expensive fabric in the world, but if the jersey doesn’t fit well you’ll lose a lot of performance. Fit is, naturally, a personal thing, and also depends on the style of riding you do. If it’s sportives and racing, then tighter fitting jerseys are better, they’re less flappy and more aero.
For touring and leisure cycling a relaxed fit with a more generous cut will be preferable. Equally too for commuting to the office. Such jerseys can be made from highly technical fabrics, but offer a more relaxed style that is as comfortable on the bike as sitting in the beer garden for a post-ride drink.
Sizing is critical, whichever your chosen style, and here companies offer a range of sizes that should sit most body shapes. Some measure up smaller or larger than others, so don’t take it for granted that you’re a medium in one brand that you’ll be the same size in all other brands. Trying before you buy is really the best way to proceed, if you have the opportunity.
If you’re racing or seeking an aerodynamic advantage, there are a raft of new jerseys designed to sit very close to the skin, with no excess material to flap in the wind, and help your upper body better cut through the air. They’re not for everyone though… Remember, about 80% of the wind drag you face when cycling is caused by the body, so ensuring your body is aero is a better place to start than dropping £2K on a pair of carbon deep-section wheels.
Pockets, zips and mesh panels
Features can make or break a good summer jersey, and generally speaking, the more features the higher the price. The very minimum you want is three pockets around the back for stuffing a ride’s worth of food, money and spare tubes, and a zip at the front for when you need to cool down. That’s your classic cycling jersey right there.
There’s a myriad of extra options, with everything from zipped pockets, full-length zippers, mesh panels strategically placed for maximum ventilation, elasticated waists, silicone hems to stop them riding up, and reflective stripes, good for riding late into the summer evenings.
Style it up
How the jersey looks is purely personal preference, there’s enough choice out there to keep everyone happy. Your options range from team replica kit, understated but stylish branded wear all the way through to the current trend for retro inspired garb.
And the choice continues to grow. A big growth area has been in the cycle clothing that doesn’t look like cycle clothing, that could happily be worn off the bike without raising eyebrows. Yet using the latest technical fabrics and smart fit, means they work well on the bike when you’re hammering along the road.
Women are better catered for now than they ever have been in previous years, with most manufacturers now offering comprehensive choice of jerseys specifically to cut to suit the female form. And some even manage to avoid making their jerseys pink or baby blue and plastering butterfly details over them, but if that’s your thing there are still plenty of pink and flowery tops too.
Caring for your new jersey
It’s not a good idea to wear your new cycle jersey more than once, even if it was just a short ride. Your perspiration settles into the fabric of the jersey, and the bad smell is caused by bacteria. So wash your jersey after every ride.
For washing, it’s important to follow the manufacturers guidelines printed on the care label. The temperature rating is the vital bit, and it’s necessary to wash accordingly. If you do wash a fabric at a higher temperature than advised and do so constantly, the fabric will deteriorate in quality.
Washing liquid or gels are preferable to powder as they are less aggressive with the delicate fabrics, though powder is better at getting out really muddy stains. When it comes to drying avoid the tumble drier at all costs, unless you want your jersey a size smaller. Hang on the washing line or over a clothes rack and allow to dry naturally, the best thing about cycle clothing is how quickly it dries, so you won’t have to wait long.
Other tips, don’t forget to empty the pockets – sounds obvious but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve stuffed a jersey in the washing machine and forgotten to remove a used gel wrapper. We would advise washing your cycling clothing separately from your ordinary clothes too. And don’t forget to zip up the zippers as well.
B’Twin SS Jersey 300 £4.99(link is external)
There isn’t much cycling kit you can get for a tenner: a pair of socks maybe, or a of couple water bottles. Or, you can buy a fully functioning B’Twin 300 cycling jersey. You’ll have change too. In fact you’ll have change from a fiver.
It may be basic but the 300 isn’t just a rehashed t-shirt. You get breathable material with various panels, two rear pockets and a front zip plus Decathlon’s two-year warranty against defects. You kind of wonder what the catch is. As far as we can see there isn’t one.